Endangered Crocodiles Hatch in Koh Kong, Conservationists Say

A conservation group said yesterday it located a nest of critically en­dangered Siamese Crocodiles in Koh Kong province last week, and had observed that 13 crocodile eggs had successfully hatched, adding it was looking after 10 of the baby crocodiles at a safe site before releasing them back into the wild.

Sam Han, a project officer at Fau­na and Flora International, said he had come across a nest with 22 crocodile eggs in the remote Areng Valley in Chumnap commune last weekend and had taken 15 eggs he believed to be fertilized from the nest to protect them from possible flooding or predators.

“I felt very happy because we rarely find a crocodile nest in the wild, just only one this year,” Mr Han said. “The nest could be flooded, so we start to move the eggs to a safer place to guard it 24 hours.”

An additional three baby crocodiles had hatched when Mr Han re­turned to the site later, he said.

FFI also found Siamese Croco­dile nests in 2007 and 2008, and had raised several dozen baby crocodiles found there, Mr Han said.

FFI program manager Adam Starr said the 15 eggs found last week were incubated in an artificial nest at a nearby safe site guarded by the local community. Before long, 10 of the eggs hatched.

The baby crocodiles were put in a water-filled pen, where they will be taken care of for about one year before being released back into the wild, he said.

Experts believe there are about 250 Siamese Crocodiles left in the wild in Southeast Asia, the majority of them in Cambodia’s remote and jungle-covered Cardamom Moun­tains, Mr Starr said.

“So to be able to find a nest like this is fairly significant,” he said, adding, however, that many of the newly hatched crocodiles would likely die before reaching 15, the age from which they reproduce.

The Areng Valley, where the crocodiles were found, is “one of the largest and most fertile valleys in southwest Cambodia,” according to Mr Starr. A major hydro­power dam is planned in the valley, however, so FFI plans to consult the government to find possible al­ternative locations in which to re­lease the crocodiles, he said.



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